Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 pick Doug Williams can relate to current top pick Josh Freeman

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' original franchise quarterback says he knows what it's like to be Josh Freeman.

Thirty-one years ago, Doug Williams also was the 17th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he feels another connection with the Kansas State star.

"His K-State career was a lot like my (Tampa Bay) Bucs career," Williams said Monday. "If K-State didn't have Josh Freeman, they might have shut the program down. Josh Freeman was it for them. A lot of people that love the Wildcats might not want to hear that, but it's fact.

"I read all the blogs and comments after the draft and I think it's unfair. There ain't nobody asking Josh (Freeman) to take the reins today."

Josh Freeman, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first-round pick, was introduced Monday by coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik. He posed for pictures with a No. 1 jersey, similar to what he wore at K-State.

But so far, he doesn't seem to be first in the hearts of many Bucs fans.

"You have to take it in stride," Freeman said of the fan reaction. "I had a plan for everything. I anticipated it, being from Kansas State and not having the national exposure like when Ben Roethlisberger was drafted. I'm from a smaller school, maybe didn't have the national spotlight on us all the time.

"I didn't win as many games as the other guys. I expected a little of this to come. I hear they're great fans here and people respond to winning. So I think if I go out and play well, they'll have no complaints then."

Williams, who works as the Bucs pro personnel coordinator, says people are too focused on some of Freeman's numbers, which he argues aren't as bad as you might think.

In three seasons, Freeman threw 44 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, but 15 of those picks came as a 19-year-old true freshman. They talk about his completion percentage, but as a sophomore, he completed 63.3 percent. They talk about his touchdown-to-interception rating, but last season he threw 20 TDs with eight INTs. His passer rating was 127.26 in '07 and 136.48 in '08.

"They can beat this kid up all they want," Williams said. "I've watched the '08 tape and every throw he made he got his (butt) hit. He either did that or would've taken a lot of sacks."

Williams said he watched a lot of tape of Freeman. "I've seen the kid bring his team back from 10 points and be leading 39-38 with 1:10 left and lose 41-39," Williams said. "Somebody has got to stop somebody."

To Freeman's credit, he takes the blame for back-to-back 5-7 records.

"I'm not pointing fingers; I just think it came down to me trying to … be like a Superman, to have some amazing effort if we were going to be able to win," Freeman said. "I think I played out of character, and I definitely think it hurt me."

Williams wonders how much better Freeman might have been had he been able to sit a year, like Sanchez did at USC. Or if he had a first-round draft pick at running back, like Matthew Stafford did.

But Williams looks at the situation Freeman will step into with the Bucs and thinks it's ideal for him.

"I was born too soon," Williams said. "I wish I had an opportunity like Josh has to come into. Number one, he has a young offensive line and weapons to work with. You don't have an old offensive football team. Your running backs are your oldest players.

"It's a perfect situation for Josh. He gets to watch guys like (Byron) Leftwich and (Luke) McCown battle it out for the starter, and he can see it firsthand. One of them is going to take him under their wing."

Williams says if the Bucs were looking for a rookie quarterback to play this season, it wouldn't have been Freeman.

"I love Josh, but if we're looking for a guy to come in here and play tomorrow, let's get Sanchez," Williams said. "But ask me who has the most upside, it's Josh Freeman. Bar none. I've seen them all play.

"That's why I like this pick more than anything. There wasn't any pressure on Raheem or Mark. I think if you had to take a poll here with Bucs fans and across the country, they said don't draft Josh Freeman. In meeting rooms, it wasn't about a poll. It was about who we think is the best guy.

"They've been unfair to this kid."

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 pick Doug Williams can relate to current top pick Josh Freeman 04/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 7:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win


    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  2. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  3. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  4. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  5. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.